Behold the Green Lantern bass!

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by gweimer, Jul 20, 2000.

  1. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    Well, I finally finished the initial construction of the Green Lantern bass. Since we’ve had a number of questions regarding these kinds of projects, I thought I’d share my experience with everyone, and look for some feedback on the problems I’m still having.

    Parts list:
    <LI>Fender Squier neck
    <LI>Jackson bridge (pretty much like a Fender)
    <LI>P-bass type body (maybe Yamaha or Washburn, but….)
    <LI>Bartolini pickup (can’t go wrong here!)
    <LI>Misc stuff from Stew-Mac (wiring kit, lacquer….)</UL>

    The problems (and how I fixed them):<UL TYPE=SQUARE>
    <LI>The neck cavity appeared to be too shallow when lining up the bridge with the neck (I routed the cavity 1/16”)
    <LI>When mounted, the neck cavity was too deep, making the action unbearably high ( I shimmed up the cavity with a 1/16” piece of wood - - lesson learned here - - ALWAYS PUT THE STUPID THING TOGETHER BEFORE HACKING IT UP! DOH! Another itty bitty problem is that the cavity doesn’t seem to be level – neck angles back just a tad)
    <LI>The original holes for the bridge were not correct for intonation (I put the neck in the cavity, then measured 17” from the octave point on the fretboard; placed the bridge saddles on that point, and re-drilled the holes. Lucky me; I had JUST enough room to do it)
    <LI>The neck, while looking just fine when I got it, took on a nice bow when strung up (the truss rod seems to be maxed, so I may have to live with it.)
    <LI>The original neck plate for whatever this bass was used an offset 4-bolt pattern. (Since I didn't want to drill a bazillion holes in the Fender neck, OR find the original plate, I opted for a standard generic neck plate. Since the neck fit in the cavity, I put 4 small screws in the current neck holes, tapped them into the cavity, and then drilled from there. I made the holes fairly small for little tolerance of movement. I lucked out - one of the holes is about 1/4" from the edge of the body)
    <LI>After mounting the pickups, they were too far from the strings, and I had a problem trying to adjust them (went to the local ACE hardware, and got 4 tiny springs. Remounted the pickups, and voila! , much better ability to adjust the height of the pickup)
    <LI>After the first, note FIRST, wiring, I seemed to have 2 volume knobs and no tone knob (For starters, when you get a wiring sheet with more than one diagram, make sure you follow only the one you’re working on! Second, I found that each of my P-bass diagrams were different. The one with the Bartolini didn’t make sense – which I may address again. The one that came with the Stew-Mac wiring kit didn’t work – see original problem. I finally opted for the one on the Seymour Duncan site, and it seems to be working so far)</UL>
    The finish isn’t done yet. We have to apply a collage of Green Lantern decals on this prior to a few coats of clear; by the way, thanks to Hambone for this idea. However, even after waiting 10-14 days on the black, is still seems a bit soft. Don’t know if I did anything wrong or not. The body came poorly finished, so it was sanded, and 3 coats of black nitro-cellulose were applied. I suspect that the new coats have reacted with the remaining original finish, since we didn’t strip it.

    I'll try to put pics up later. For what it's worth, I'd give this project a 6 on a ten scale. It's functional, but has plenty of little flaws. The Bartolini makes it happen, though. It really does sound pretty good; not as good as my G&L, but it's respectable in comparison.

    OK - here's the pics:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [This message has been edited by gweimer (edited July 20, 2000).]
  2. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Watch out for those "Yellow" stagelights!

    ...are those GOLD(ie YELLOW)tuners?!?!

    [This message has been edited by JimK (edited July 23, 2000).]
  3. I don't get over here as often as I should and as such didn't see this creation till now. BUT, my hat is off to you for your creativity. It looks like a nice pairing of parts especially the black on black approach, which I really dig. Might I suggest a set of black tuners to complete the effect? I might also have a solution for your neck angle. I have used the thick aluminum tape (usually for air conditioning) as a shim. The cool thing about this is that it is so thin, probably .015", that you can easily double it or more to get the right thickness. It is also very dense and, if done right, can be made to use it's adhesive to keep it in place. Make a shim that is as wide as your neck pocket but narrow enough to fit over the holes on the pickup end of the pocket and just tighten down. It may take a few tries but eventually you'll find just the right amount to get that tough angle out of the neck.

    As for the bow in the neck, perhaps this will help. Rather than putting all kinds of pressure on the truss-rod trying to straighten the neck, take the bow out manually and then adjust the rod to hold it in place. After reading this, I see that it might be hard to put into words...let's see if I can: Take the neck off and clamp it on the pickup end. Place a fulcrum in the middle and, using a large C clamp (with padding of course!), crank the headstock down to where the neck is straight. Be very careful where you place the clamp's pad. Once the bow is gone, see if the trussrod will move freely. If it does, try to put additional pressure on the head to get a little back bow and adjust the trussrod to hold it there. Then mount the neck back on the bass and see if it holds the back relief. If it does, you can then easily back off on the trussrod to allow the strings to pull the neck into straightness. Sometimes it's just a bit tough to get a trussrod to do all of the work on a well bowed neck.

    The soft finish has a fix but I'm not sure you would want to disassemble the bass to do it. If you don't mind, you can strip the hardware and bake the body in the oven. This should only be done at about 150 degrees but it will accelerate the curing of the multiple layers of paint and will even put a halt to the reaction of the lacquer to the underlying finish. When I was finishing the old Kramer, I used a small space heater and a rigged curing chamber to speed up the process. Humidity was my enemy in doing the black finish here in GA. By the way, get the wife's permission here cuz it might tend to smell up the kitchen a bit.

    Now, how about a really wild suggestion? Though I really like the black hardware it is possible to make it all GREEN! Yup, it uses a "painting" technique called powder coating. If you aren't up on this, it is a method that uses epoxy powder adhered to clean metal surfaces by electrostatic charge. After the powder is stuck, it is baked at high temps and "melts" into a nice smooth colorful coating that is much harder than the usual paint. Powder coating is widely used in the hot rod industry and is the best type of coating available. I intend to use it on my Kawai bridge, which is a clear coated brass, but gets "stains" in the finish. All of the knobs and pickups are black so, along with a new set of black Gotoh tuners, I'll do the bridge in black. It should be stunning after the change. You can look for a jobber in the yellow pages. There are usually a few in major metro areas. The price is very cheap since your parts are so small. They also make kits for this kind of thing that aren't too expensive but unless you intend to do more are probably cost prohibitive.

    Again, good job!

    [This message has been edited by Hambone (edited July 23, 2000).]

    [This message has been edited by Hambone (edited July 23, 2000).]
  4. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    Hambone, thanks for the tips. I was actually contemplating the aluminum tape yesterday before I read your post. I may have to think about the neck bow; my son's instructor offered to take a whack at it first. Since I still have the clear coat to apply, I may try doing this horizontally in my garage, and using my gillion-watt halogen lamp for drying. The black was done suspended from a coat hanger in thin coats. That could account for some of the remaining pitting.
    As far as the final look, I've found a source of decal paper that claims to be able to wrap around curved surfaces; the pics we've selected are pretty cool, and the GL ring will be laid over the pot stems, so I'm going to play chicken, and leave the hardware alone (cool idea about the green,though). I'll keep everyone updated.

    p.s.- the tuners are silver; bad lighting and all that. We definitely don't want to curse this bass!

    [This message has been edited by gweimer (edited July 24, 2000).]
  5. Is the pitting you have experienced what they call "fisheyes"? Usually there are only 2 conditions that cause a pit in painted surfaces, the first is a bubble that has popped at a point in the drying that the paint wouldn't fill in the cavity and the other is "fisheyes". These are caused by silicones or other waxy substances on the surface that don't allow the paint to stick. The only thing you can do is to clean, clean, clean with either a wax and grease remover for painting or naptha. Once they are there, it's really hard to get them to go away though. Hopefully your clear coat will do some fill-in and they won't be so noticable.

  6. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    I'll be doing the aluminum tape thing tomorrow; I'll let you know how it works. The finish is almost surely the fisheyes you mentioned. We noticed during the black finishing that fingerprints were magically appearing on the back of the body. We'll try the horizontal spraying and heat drying to see what happens.
    You've got me curious about the powder coating; how about doing the bridge, the tuners and...the strings! Can you imagine GREEN strings?!?!? I mean, if the coating is baked on, they should still resonate, right? Gotta make a couple phone calls tomorrow..... [​IMG]
  7. Bad news about the strings. The powder is an epoxy dust that when cured in the oven, glazes over into a VERY hard coating. I imagine that with all of the vibration, it would easily flake off after awhile. How about WeedEater line?:)

    For those that are looking for a different finish for their hardware, there are a couple of things to try from the gunsmithing field. As you know, a lot of firearms are "blued" this is a hot dip chemical process that imparts a blue black finish to raw steel. That would be a cool alternative to the rather "painted" look of most black pieces. It also looks very good as it ages because the high spots will wear off and sort of define the shape of the piece. I have a bridge on my Jazz that has a blued type of finish though I don't have a clue as to what type of bridge it is. The other idea is similiar but it is a brown finish done in much the same way but with different chemicals. This process leaves a deep bronze color with some variation in shade and would look fabulous on a natural bass.